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September 25, 2010

SQ 755 ban raises questions, concerns

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

He added because the question specifically names Sharia law as the only type of religious law to be banned, it could open up the possibility for legal challenges arguing it is religious discrimination.

“You just can’t favor one religion over another just because you like one better,” he said.

Support and opposition

Ada resident Orvil Harris, who is active in the Islamic Society of Ada, said the state question is unnecessary and counterproductive in strengthening U.S.-Islam relationships that have deteriorated since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He said supporters of the issue are using scare tactics instead of helping educate people about the religion.

“I don’t think there needs to be something like this now,” he said. “I’m interested in what is going on in this country, and I don’t want to do anything to make Islam objectionable.”

Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Arcadia, said he views the criticism against the state questions as unfounded. He said Sharia law is a threat to the country that needs to be addressed.

“Are we not at war with this ideology?” he asked. “Are we not at war with them? Then why would we give in to this?”

The legislation — House Joint Resolution 1056, also referred to as the “Save our State” resolution — that created the state question passed 82-10 in the House and 41-2 in the Senate during the 2010 session. Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, who was one of the 12 lawmakers to oppose the measure, said the ambiguous wording of the state question could potentially complicate legal dealing for American Indian tribes and multinational corporations.

In addition, Williams said he doesn’t see how the state question would change how judges act, except for complicating matters for the courts and contributing to religious intolerance.

“If I was a Muslim Oklahoman, I would be offended by my religion being singled out,” he said. “Some people buy into the whole butterfly theory that if a judge in Europe flaps his wings and adopted Sharia law then it will come to Oklahoma. I, on the other hand, do not.”

Trevor Brown writes from the Oklahoma statehouse for CNHI News Service and The Transcript. He can be reached at tbrown@cnhi.com.

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